How I Made My First Sale
As a writer, I love getting my ideas down on paper. I love seeing an original story take shape, from that vague glimmer in the far reaches of my mind to finishing up a manuscript. I enjoy finding just the right names for my characters, creating their back story and talents, finding their traits and quirks, molding and shaping them until they are full-blown, believable people. I enjoy coming up with a plot—throwing in all kinds of internal and external conflict, researching elements that will add verisimilitude, finding just the right setting that will enhance the plot. Since I’m a romance writer, I also strive to tell a beautiful love story and allow my hero and heroine to overcome numerous obstacles because they are meant to be together and have their own happily ever after.
But I wanted more than myself and my critique partners to read my stories. I wanted to take the next step up the food chain and become a published author. That meant selling a manuscript.
It’s harder than it sounds. Editors and agents receive so many manuscripts. It seems as if everyone and their third cousin’s mother think they can write a great novel. Querying is the usual route, but I believed that a face-to-face meeting would help me get my foot in the door and allow my story to leap off the page for an editor.
So what did I do? I got myself to a conference.
I attended the October 2012 Lone Star Conference in Houston, sponsored by a local RWA chapter. Three editors were in attendance, and they spoke on a panel at the beginning of the conference. All agreed that if they were interested in a manuscript pitched to them, they would ask for anywhere between 3-5 chapters. I had appointments scheduled with two of these editors and had two different books that I thought would appeal to each of them, based upon reading about them and their publishing houses.
Think about it—ten minutes to sell my manuscript—and me.
I met with the first one, taming my nerves as best I could, and pitched the story in as interesting and unique a way as possible. The best advice going in is to limit your pitch to about seven minutes, so the editor has time to ask questions and you can expound or clarify.
And that editor asked for . . . wait for it . . . the entire manuscript! Not 3 chapters. Not 5 chapters. Not 100 pages. But the whole freaking thing!
It only got better. The second editor responded the exact same way and asked for the full manuscript. I floated like a Macy’s Thanksgiving Day balloon back to the ballroom, rejoining the conference and the guest speaker, trying my best to take advantage of this terrific author and his writing advice (which my conference fee had paid for). I left around 5 PM and hightailed it back to Dallas and by the next day, I’d sent emailed complete manuscripts off to each editor.
And two weeks after our meeting, the founder of Soul Mate Publishing, Debby Gilbert, offered me a contract for Music For My Soul, a medieval historical romance set in England. It came out in May 2013 and was followed in October by Outlaw Muse, a western historical romance. Debby has also bought two more western historicals for 2014, A Game of Chance and A Change of Plans. I hope she will consider even more purchases from me. She’s provided me with a fabulous cover artist, Ramona Lockwood of Covers by Ramona, and we’ve had a blast collaborating on tender, sensual covers that show the very essence of my novels.
Yes, it took several years of hard work—writing and rewriting, meeting with my critique partners, attending workshops and conferences, reading articles—but I’m proud to say I’ve joined the ranks of those who are published authors. And I will never forget meeting Debby in person, making that personal connection as I shared my characters and their story with her. It’s such an accomplishment to break away from the pack and realize my dream of being a published author.
Lily Frontiere returns from a costly European trip to find her mother has accumulated large gambling debts. Things grow worse as her mother’s health deteriorates and she can no longer run Lucky Lil’s, the most famous whorehouse in San Francisco. Though Lilian shielded her only child from house life by sending her away to boarding school, Lily takes over and poses as Madam Lil. Her intelligence and astonishing resemblance to her mother help, but she’s entering a world she knows little about. Lily tries to extract the house from impending financial ruin until a handsome stranger turns up with the deed to Lucky Lil’s in hand.
Gambler Jed Stone journeys to California to track down Simon Morgan, the man responsible for his best friend’s death. Arrested for robbery and murder upon arrival, he is shocked to see his face on a wanted poster. Jed escapes before his hanging, unaware that the man guilty of those crimes is the twin brother he never knew existed. In a case of mistaken identity, Jed acquires Lucky Lil’s in a rigged card game his twin is meant to win.
Jed asks Madam Lil to stay on as he learns the business. Lily clashes with the new owner over ways to make the establishment profitable, yet she is attracted to the charming risk taker at the same time. Jed is fooled by Lily’s charade until he stumbles upon the real Madam Lil and learns the truth behind Lily’s deception. His admiration for Lily blossoms into love.
But Simon Morgan seeks both Lily’s hand and ownership of Lucky Lil’s—and he will go to any means to possess both. Will Jed foil his nemesis while bringing his outlaw brother to justice?
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Genre - Western Historical Romance
Rating – PG
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